One thing I’m finding out about my struggle to land a new job isn’t the fact that I can land a job interview — it’s the fact that I sometimes drop the ball during the nerve-wracking event.
Since my layoff May 13 I’ve had three job interviews. Two of those interviews were from potential employers who called me the same day I applied to the position.
I will research the employer’s website to learn more about the organization at least a day before the interview, followed by jotting down some specific question-scenarios the employer may ask me during the interview to help me prepare. Basically, I am well prepared going into an interview.
During the interview, however, that is a completely different story.
I find that I am grossly underselling myself. I don’t make myself standout among the dozens of other candidates who are contending for the same position. I found this out the hard way after a potential employer informed me they had to chose among a lot of “excellent candidates.”
It’s a tough grind, to say the least. But after attending a provincial-government-funded workshop — offered by BGS Career & Corporate Development — this week, I learned five things:
1. Show the potential employer that you are passionate about the work that you do or the work that you may be doing once your hired.
This was the biggest lesson for me, as I found out during the workshop. I always describe myself as a storyteller and a journalist. But to an employer, I’m probably not going to get hired by just saying I am a journalist and a storyteller — especially if I’m among a handful of candidates with journalism backgrounds.
You need to show why you love the work that you do, or how the new job you are applying for will help fuel your passion. For me, I love the fact that my storytelling raised awareness for the charity that employed me during my last job. It was gratifying — I was able to raise awareness about medical research and about the struggles patients have for certain diseases like asthma and COPD.
2. Be confident.
After losing my job, it’s hard to be confident, especially when I’m among a handful of candidates with similar backgrounds looking for the same work. Also, I’m not one to brag, but as BGS pointed out during the workshop, you almost have to.
As Canadians, we’re too reserved. We’re not ones to boast about ourselves, but to an employer, you have to showcase how good your skills are. You can’t undersell yourself.
And to add to that, you have to show how your so-called awesomeness helped a supervisor or your previous employer in the past.
3. A mission and vision statement says a lot about the organization
A mission statement says a lot about the organization you’re applying for. It’s a must-thing to pay attention to before an interview. A mission and vision statement speaks about the work culture and the organization’s expectations for its staff.
During one interview I had this week I found out the organization didn’t have a mission or vision statement. So I asked about it. I felt it helped me during the interview as the potential employer told me his company values integrity, which is practised by its entire team.
4. Just be yourself.
An organization that is interviewing you is determining if you and your personality are good fits for the organization — along with figuring out if your values are aligned with the organization’s values. It’s more than just skills and qualifications.
Sometimes getting a rejection from a potential employer has nothing to do with your skills, experience or qualifications. This a good reason why you should never try to pretend to be someone else during an interview just so you can win the job. Just be yourself. Getting a “no” sometimes could be a good thing for you if the potential employer explains that you weren’t the right fit.
5. Plan to say everything you want to share to win the job.
As BGS Career & Corporate Development pointed out, it’s always important to prepare for an interview. It will help you share everything that you want to tell to a potential employer.
With that said, there have been a lot of times where I’ve left an interview feeling that I forgot to tell an employer something that would have added to my proof of my skills and qualifications for the job.
BGS recommends preparing for a closing by jotting down some notes highlighting the things that you would like to share during the interview. Make sure you’ve said everything on that list before the interview ends.
There’s no secret here. I am looking for work.
I was laid off from my social media/communications position May 13, 2016 after working there for more than 2.5 years. And I get it. Working for a health-based charity in Alberta’s current economic climate, the writing was pretty much on the wall for my termination.
However, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bitter about it. It’s a job loss and after I found out about the decision by my employer, I felt like I was punched in the stomach.
I know my employer’s decision was out of my control and I get that it has no reflection of my skills or on-the-job performance, but I was always of the opinion that I should always work hard to get to a position within my organization where I am too valuable to lose my job — even when it goes through times or challenges. I guess I’m a little old school by that way.
Since I found out about my dismissal — when my manager wept as she gave me the bad news notifying me that I would lose my job in two weeks — I had troubles sleeping until my final day at work.
It was tough. I was laying in bed each night trying to figure out what’s next, my financial situation, my future, etc., etc., etc.. However, once I was finished at my position, I never slept so well. I was in bed for most of the morning, every morning.
I also spent some time working on this website in hopes to get a new job, along with looking for new opportunities. I have had a couple of interviews followed by a couple of rejections, followed by me beating myself up for not landing those jobs.
It’s been a roller-coaster ride to say the least, but the biggest thing I have learned through all of this — and this search to land a new job — is to take time for yourself. Put the job search aside for one day, or a week, even — along with the need to give your social media job portfolios endless facelifts.
Recharge by doing something you enjoy like a hobby, go on a camping trip, visit your out-of-town family. Don’t let your frustrations about losing your job — or being jobless — overwhelm you.
Taking time away from the search may actually help you refocus on landing a new opportunity to your liking. This blog is one way to help me recharge.
Going forward, I hope to update this blog once a week to share my successes and failures in my job search. I hope I can help others who are in the same boat as I am, or at the very least, have those who are jobless share their successes with me.
What has happened in Fort McMurray has been a devastating disaster, but there has also been examples of courage, triumph, and resilience.
For one thing — even though no one was killed during the evacuation out of town as fires were ravaging southern neighbourhoods in Alberta’s oil sands city — firefighters, emergency crews and police officers successfully got all 80,000-plus residents out of Fort McMurray safely.
As hundreds upon hundreds of vehicles headed south on Highway 63 — the only road out of Fort McMurray — to escape “The Beast,” firefighters stayed in the city fighting flames as their own homes were gutted by the wildfire.
From watching all of the dashcam and mobile phone footage that was posted on social media, it was like escaping from Hell. Mounties, who were not seen wearing masks to protect themselves from the heavy smoke, were busy and calmly directing residents out of town as drivers and their panic-stricken families frantically headed to the highway to escape the flames. It was a surreal scene.
As those cars were lined up on the highway — with caravans of vehicles stretching for tens of kilometres — volunteers, johnny-on-the-spots, concerned citizens headed north to help stranded motorists with food and fuel.
Once those Fort McMurray at emergency shelters — whether it was in Edmonton, Boyle, Lac la Biche, or as far south as Calgary — those communities and complete strangers opened their arms to help.
When public pleas were made for disaster-relief donations, Canadians stepped up in a big way. All in all, every person who lives in Alberta — or anywhere across Canada — should be proud of what was accomplished here.
There is a lot of work to be done and a lot of questions still need to be answered in terms of re-building and giving people their livelihoods back. However, in terms of successes, a lot can be learned about the bravery and courage in Fort McMurray.
For example, social media strategists, media relations professionals, and communication experts can learn a lot from that community’s amazing fire chief, Darby Allen.
During times of crisis, Allen and the team responsible for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s social media accounts kept Fort McMurray residents updated on the status of the fire.
What was particularly amazing was the video posted to Twtter Tuesday night of Allen re-assuring residents that its fire department is looking after their homes and businesses.
Here it is:
What I found particularly amazing was the fact that not only did he send good news to residents by saying crews “just about have this fire beat,” he also personally assured residents that it isn’t safe to come back to Fort McMurray just yet.
To the public, Allen talks like it came from the heart — and it really did. That is something organizations should pay extra attention to when it's faced with adversity or a crisis.
Meanwhile, please continue to give to the Red Cross or find a way to volunteer to help those who have been displaced by the Fort McMurray wildfires.
JEFF'S NOTE: The was posted on my Facebook page April 28, 2016
Earls, I have a beef with you and with this silly, twisted debate.
Here's a reason why I buy local: I know where the beef comes from and I know it's high-quality to barbecue. When I go to a farmer's market or at my nearby butcher shop, I can actually talk to a rancher or my butcher can actually tell me what rancher or Hutterite colony his beef comes from.
So for Earls to ship beef all the way from the U.S., that's just ridiculous. Even to say the U.S. company they are buying its beef from is “certified humane” is a slap in the face to every rancher who lives near an Earls — regardless of them having the certification or not.
And, according to Earls, its decision comes on two years of research into beef, claiming it has tested 16 companies throughout North America to come to its conclusion.
There is something wrong with that logic. For starters, treatment guidelines of farm livestock isn’t cut and dry in Canada. (UPDATE: It also isn’t cut and dry in the U.S. either.)
With that said, I would be curious to know why Earls — or any other franchise restaurants like Boston Pizza, the Keg, or Milestones — chooses to source their beef from companies instead of local farmers and ranchers.
At Earls, it employs a “protein buyer” who, as explained in this video, “sources and procures the most humanely-raised, cleanest proteins” that are available to the company. The question I have is why do that in the first place?
Instead, if Earls — or any of the other previously mentioned eateries — wants to make a difference for its customers, how about making its franchise owners or restaurant chefs and managers source their own “humanely-raised proteins” from its nearby ranchers, farmers, growers, and butchers. They can learn a lot by meeting those hard-working food-producers at their nearby farms.
I always try to avoid eating at franchise restaurants for this very reason — my food should be locally grown. I want to know where it comes from.
However, this is something that gets lost in this ongoing debate on social media. Those who are passionate about Alberta beef are calling for an Earls boycott. I wouldn’t go that far.
My thoughts for those who are reading this is this: the next time you dine at Olive Garden, the Canadian Brewhouse, Boston Pizza, or any other franchise restaurant or pub, ask the waitress where the food you are ordering is “sourced and procured.” You too might have a beef about the answer.
JEFF'S NOTE: This was posted on my Facebook page on April 6, 2016 — the regular season home game for the Edmonton Oilers.
Since today is the last #Oilers game at Rexall Place, here is an awesome memory I had there, and of my grandfather, Walter Cummings...:
As as SAIT journalism student, I was in the middle of a practicum at the Edmonton Journal and I was staying with my grandparents during that entire two-week stint. I was thrilled about it because I am a HUGE Oilers fan. It was a big deal for me as I spent my entire teenage years in Southern Alberta. Any way, my grandpa received a pair of tickets to a game during the 2000-2001 season, that included a trip to the dressing room after the game. He received the tickets from my uncle who picked them up from a charity silent auction.
The Oilers lost to the Penguins that game by a score of 6-1, and they were miserable after, but I didn’t care. I saw the grey, smashed up door in the dressing room that was loaded with stickers representing every Oilers playoff win. I loved the way the room looked before they renovated it. I also got a chance to meet Doug Weight, George Laraque, Janne Niinimaa and others, even though they lost a tough game, they were happy to greet me.
The next thing I remember was amazing and hilarious. As I was looking everywhere taking the surreal experience all in (as it lasted for about 25 minutes), I glanced at my grandpa who was lecturing assistant coach Ted Green on who he should have played on the powerplay. It was awesome.
Green was a good sport, nodding his head up and down as if my grandpa was coaching him. Green was holding a pen in is right hand with a notepad in his left — it seemed as if he was going to take some notes. I think my grandpa stayed in that one spot the whole time we were there lecturing Green on the lack of offensive spark on the power-play.
That memory, out of all the awesome concerts and games I saw in Rexall Place — that one sticks out the most. It will be sad to watch the game tonight — it will remind me about the fun I had with my Edmonton-sports-loving grandfather.